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The leftmost three pictures are of my 17 year old son, Blaine. I'm in the picture on the right which was taken at Death Valley in August, 2004.

The only picture that I have of my 15 year-old son Eric was taken in March, 2003. He lives with my former in laws in Colorado Springs and, like happens in so many divorces, our relationship was destroyed and will probably not heal until he is no longer under their influence. But he’s in my thoughts — after all, he lived the first 12 years of his life with me and just because we’re not in the same household doesn’t mean that we’re not father and son.

Eric and I sometimes did little things together. One day, when we lived in Santa Fe, we drove to some railroad tracks and put pennies on the tracks. We came back later, after the train had gone by, and found our pennies. No surprise but they were squished flat! When I had to travel for work, I’d bring Eric home a t shirt. Blaine got key chains and Eric got a t shirt. Then, when we’d go somewhere outdoors, Eric would bring home a special rock. I don’t know if he has them still but I’ve kept those traditions going. I still send him shirts from the places that I go and, when I did my climb up Green Butte on Mt. Shasta, I found a rock for Eric.

Now,this is no ordinary rock, no siree! This is a volcanic rock that I found while climbing the west side of Green Butte. If you’re not familiar with the trail that goes up the west side of Green Butte, I can understand — there is no trail that goes up the west side of Green Butte. The west side of Green Butte has an average grade of 48% and most of the last five or six hundred vertical feet have to be climbed on all fours. There’s so much scree that the surface gives way unless you’re on all fours.

Anyway, back to Eric’s rock…

I spotted the grid coordinates from the GPS on DeLorme’s Topo mapping software and it shows me that Eric’s rock was resting right at the 8,380' mark. If you’re into maps, check out the topo map and the 3D map. Pictures of the area don’t do a great job of showing how steep the slope is but you get some idea of the expanse of the rock face. Oh, I almost forgot…a picture of Eric’s rock!

The astute reader will see that Eric’s rock was found at just under 8,400' but the highest part of Green Butte is over 9,200'. That's right — I stuffed the rock in my Camelback and carried it up to the summit of Green Butte, down the back side of the butte, and then walked it about 2 miles back to the parking lot.

Blaine, as in Blaine Christian von Roeder, is a hell of a kid. I do have to admit that sometimes it’s hard to call him a “kid” since he’s 5 inches taller than I am (he’s 6' 6") but, as every parent knows, all of our kids will always be “our kids” until the day we die.

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